Julie Humphreys

Drug Use Ordinance

Julie Humphreys, Communication Manager, Spokane Police, 509.622.5868

Friday, June 2, 2023 at 5 p.m.

Spokane Police Department officers are actively enforcing a new city ordinance that makes public use of illegal drugs a misdemeanor.

The law went into effect last in early May and in the past 3 weeks, Spokane Police officers have made initiated 80 citations or arrests for people openly using drugs on our city streets.

In some cases, people are cited and released, in others they are taken to jail depending on jail capacity, officer staffing, and the circumstances of the person arrested – i.e. have they been arrested for the same offense recently?

In all cases officers are educating users about the city ordinance and that if they use drugs in public, they will be arrested.

The new ordinance which City Council voted into law comes following public outcry about open drug use in Spokane, particularly downtown.  SPD is responding to a barrage of community complaints about the destructive and dangerous behavior associated with illegal drug use that directly affects them. Community members tell us they avoid certain areas of Spokane because they are fearful of and frustrated by people sitting and laying on sidewalks and streets using drugs.

People in the throes of addiction often lack the ability and/or desire to take steps to get off drugs.

Their behavior is often unpredictable and can be violent putting others safety in jeopardy.

The ordinance gives police a tool to compel people to take action – show up at court – as a first step in directing them to resources to help them out of addiction.

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